MP and CICIG file impeachment requests against two magistrate judges

MP and CICIG file impeachment requests against two magistrate judges

STATEMENT 001 | Photo: Nómada and Plaza Pública.

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the Attorney General’s Office (MinisterioPúblico, MP), through the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (Fiscalía Especial contra la Impunidad, FECI), filed today two judicial impeachment requests against magistrates Blanca Aída Stalling Dávila and Eddy Giovanni Orellana Donis, who showed irregularities in the fulfillment of their duties in the Judiciary.

At a press conference, Attorney General Thelma Aldana and the Commissioner Iván Velásquez Gómez informed the facts that merited the requests to remove the immunity to judicial officials, which were delivered to the Administrative Office of the Judiciary.

Blanca Aida Stalling Dávila, Magistrate VII of the Supreme Court of Justice.
Possible crime: Influence peddling and any other that may result from the investigation.

She tried to influence the decisions of the Ninth Criminal Court, which was designated for the trial of her son Otto Fernando Molina Stalling, one of the persons accused in the IGSS-Pisa case.

The complaint was filed in the FECI by judge Carlos Giovanni Ruano Pineda on January 10, 2017, who explained that Judge Stalling had asked him to help his son. He was summoned to appear with Stalling on September 1, 2016. In his complaint, judge Ruano Pineda explained that he recorded the interview with Judge Stalling Dávila to evidence that he was invited to the meetingand that did not make any commitment regarding his work nor did he accept anything in return.

The audio recorded judge Stalling Dávila telling him that she knew that he had been appointed to the Ninth Criminal Court, which would see the case IGSS-Pisa, in which her youngest son, Otto Fernando Molina Stalling was one of the defendants. She explained that she did not want to ask him for anything illegal; she only wanted to express her feelings as a mother and to let him know the situation of his son, who had been detained for a year and four months without trial. She asked him to talk to the other judges to expedite the case.  She also said it was important that he would consider the file, and stressed out the delicate mission of a judge and that it was better to absolve a person who was guilty than to condemn an innocent one.

She then said that the next day, September 2, 2016, a hearing would be held to review the procedural coercion and that both his son and the nurses that were part of the tender board, may receive alternative measures because the offenses they were accused of do not have a prohibition. She also said that both his son and the nurses did not have the power to influence the bidding results as it is usually established in the tender, and the contract is oriented to a specific company.

However, far from finishing the conversation, the magistrate continued insisting on the need for the judges to expedite the debate and conducting an exhaustive study, asking Judge Ruano whether he had already read the file. He replied that he had not yet finished because he received the case two weeks ago. As a consequence, the magistrate told him that even to decide on an alternative measure one should have an idea of what had been the defendant’s participation. She continued to make a detailed exposition of the case to his interlocutor, from her very particular vision, with the explicit purpose of persuading him about the absence of criminal responsibility of Otto Fernando Molina Stalling in the facts investigated.

Therefore, the MP and CICIG believe that judge Stalling Dávila may have incurred in influence peddling, as well as other crimes resulting from the investigation against the magistrate as she tried to influence the proceedings of the Ninth Criminal Court. Among the evidence presented in this request is the audio of the meeting between judge Ruano and judge Stalling.

Eddy Giovanni Orellana Donis, presiding magistrate of the Second Chamber of the Court of Appeals in Civil and Commercial Matters
Possible crimes: Passive bribery, unlawful acceptance of a gift, illicit enrichment and failure to file a financial affidavit.

Magistrate Orellana Donis is accused of receiving from attorney Sergio Roberto López Villatoro a luxurious apartment located in zone 14 of the capital city, in exchange for favoring his interests in the election of magistrates to the Supreme Court of Justice. Mr. López’s intention was for Mr. Orellana Donis to be his commissioner in the 2014 nominating commissions when elected by the Institute of Magistrates of May 26, 2014.

From the investigation carried out to establish the veracity of the information provided to this Commission, it was determined that on February 25, 2015, the deeds of purchase were registered in the Property Registry by the magistrate together with his wife, Doris Lucrecia Alonso Hidalgo. Thus, it was determined that they are the current owners of a 369.88-square meter apartment as well as two parking spaces located in the same building, derived from a sales and purchase entered into on December 16, 2014, with the previous co-owners, the brothers Carlos Augusto, Vicente Rafael, David Edmundo, and Daniel Estuardo Escobar Ulloa.

Daniel Estuardo Escobar Ulloa, one of the previous owners, was interviewed. He declared that in 2013, they put up for sale the apartment valued between Q2.5 million and Q3 million, under the representation of attorney Gustavo Ortiz Arroyo, who introduced them to César David Sánchez Pérez, the legal representative of ALTA SEGURIDAD EN SERVICIOS S.A., a company interested in purchasing the property. A purchase agreement was signed on December 26, 2013, and the keys of the apartment were handed so the buyer could make some remodeling. However, the sellers never received the agreed payment, nor was the public deed of sale registered in the Land and Property Register.

When insisting on the payment with the attorney Ortiz Arroyo, who entered into the purchase and sale agreement, he told them that the person who bought the condo was Mr. Sergio Roberto Lopez Villatoro, known as the “King of Tennis Shoes” (El Rey del Tennis”) and if they continued to ask for the money, something might happen to them as he is a very powerful person. The property was immobilized as a precautionary measure when they did not receive the money. Notwithstanding the above, the brothers Escobar Ulloa realized that magistrate Orellana Donis moved to the condo in the first months of 2014.

When they contacted him, Mr. Orellana said he would not leave the property because he had arranged everything with Mr. Sergio Roberto López Villatoro. Thus, the brothers Escobar Ulloa requested a meeting with Mr. López Villatoro, and he delegated the attorneys Carlos Roberto Minchez Herrera and Claudia Patricia April Hernandez. They met several times on the tenth floor of Edificio Aristos Reforma 7-62, zona 9 of Guatemala City. In these meetings, as reported by Daniel Estuardo, when the brothers told about their intention of filing a complaint against them for not paying the full value of the apartment, attorney Minchez Herrera told them to stop bothering Judge Orellana Donis and Mr. Lopez Villatoro, because the courts were under their orders.

Finally, they realized that they could not fight the influence of these people, and reached an agreement: the first deed was annulled and signed a new one on December 16, 2014. This time, the buyers were Eddy Giovanni Orellana Donis and Doris Lucrecia Alonso Hidalgo, who never participated in the negotiations. The sellers signed the deed and received checks for Q272,000.00 as agreed in the contract.

Consequently, the information provided by Mr. Escobar Ulloa was verified, including the property located at 10a. calle 3-44, zona 14, Edificio El Torreón, Apartment 2A, in the municipality of Guatemala, Department of Guatemala.

Also, the preliminary investigations showed numerous irregularities regarding the acquisition of the property by Judge Orellana Donis and his wife and ratified that he received the property as a gift:

  1. According to the records of Condominio El Torreón, the magistrate and his wife moved to the apartment in March 2014 without the authorization of the owners, i.e., the brothers Escobar Ulloa, who had only authorized the company ALTA SEGURIDAD EN SERVICIOS, S.A. to enter the apartment for remodeling purposes. The purchase agreement was signed on December 16, 2014, more than eight months after the magistrate and his wife were residing in the building.
  2. Despite the value of the property, the brothers Escobar Ulloa received a lower amount as payment for the sale of the apartment and the two parking spaces in three checks of December 16, 2014, forUSD 19,000 (approximately 143,000) each. The checks were issued from the account number 6445010957 of Banco de Desarrollo Rural, S.A. on behalf of the company NICO S.A. A fourth cashier’s check of NICO S.A. in the amount of $65,000.00 (approximately Q.490,0000) was issued to the fourth brother.
  3. Following a review to the statements of the company, it was established that it only had USD 1,274.15 in its account to December 12, 2014, when the checks were issued. In this regard, it was established that USD 100,000.00 were deposited to the account of NICO, S.A. from account number 004-006083-0 of Banco Industrial to the name of AGUIME S.A, which did not have sufficient funds for this financial transaction and its balance to December 10 was USD 4,986.30; USD99,995.00 were received through an international transfer.
  4. The entities that paid for the property and parking spaces, NICO S.A. and AGUIME S.A, bear no relationship to Magistrate Orellana Donis nor with his wife Mrs. Alonso Hidalgo but they have a direct connection with Sergio Roberto López Villatoro.

Mr. Marlon Anibal Rosales is registered as General Manager and Legal Representative of NICO, S.A., while Ms. Claudia Abril Hernandez, who was present at the meetings with Mr. Escobar Ulloa, is a signatory to the account from which the checks to pay the property were issued. It must be mentioned that both are founding partners of the company LOVI &Asociados, whose third partner is Sergio Roberto López Villatoro, and that both entities have their registered address at Edificio Aristos Reforma 7-62, zona 9, oficina 1003, in the same place as the original buyer, ALTA SEGURIDAD, S.A.

On the other hand, the founding partners of AGUIME, S.A., Aura Marina Méndez Mere de Aguilar and her son Luis Guillermo Aguilar Méndez, and his relatives Luis Rodrigo Aguilar Méndez, Luis Alfredo Aguilar Méndez and Luis Alfredo Aguilar Aguirre hired in October and November 2014, as well as January 2015, the services of notaries Alba Ruth Sandoval Guerra and Wendy Yesenia Gómez Silva, who are related to Sergio Roberto López Villatoro. These persons, in 2014, registered more than nine companies, all with registered address at Edificio Aristos Reforma 7-62, zona 9, oficina 1003, i.e., the same address where LOVI &Asociados are located.

Therefore, it can be concluded that the monies used for the acquisition of the apartment in Condominio El Torreón, and its respective parking spaces, are not related to the assets of the spouses Orellana Donis and Alonso Hidalgo, but to the funds administered by companies under the control of Sergio Roberto López Villatoro.

This was more evident when López Villatoro, aware of the ongoing investigation carried out by CICIG and FECI, appeared in CICIG headquarters on March 14, 2015, to provide ‘discharge evidence’, informing that although NICO S.A. made the payment, magistrate Orellana Donis and his wife requested a mortgage loan withBanco G&T Continental.

However, the loan in question, identified with number 10-0011251, and authorized for the amount of Q2,000,000.00, with the apartment in Edificio El Torreón as a guarantee was granted as of April 20,2015, more than four months after the signing of the agreement for the sale of the property and 13 months after the magistrate was living in the condo. After reviewing the statements of NICO S.A. and the deposits it received, it is evident that Magistrate Orellana Donis did not pay the condo with this loan as no transfer was registered to the company that purchased the property.

Therefore, it is concluded that the Apartment 2A of Edificio El Torreón, located at 10a. calle 3-44, zona 14 of the capital city and its respective parking spaces was given to judge Orellana Donis and his wife, and the funds used for the sale came from entities related to attorney Sergio Roberto López Villatoro.

There is reasonable evidence that the property was given as a gift or patrimonial benefit to magistrate Eddy Giovanni Orellana Donis, in exchange for promoting the interests of attorney Sergio Roberto López Villatoro in the 2014 nominating committees and favor the election of certain people close to him. This because Judge Orellana Donis played a crucial role in the election of judges of the Supreme Court of Justice, as one of the members of the Nominating Committee in charge of evaluating the profiles and selecting the candidates to hold the highest office in the country’s judiciary for 2014-2019.

As for Attorney Sergio Roberto López Villatoro, it is public knowledge that he               defends hisinterests in influencing the justice system, to recognize him in interviews with various media. Several cases have been identified where attorney López Villatoro supported candidates to the courts because of his friendship, fellowship or affinity with them. As a result of the investigations carried out, it was determined that some of the candidates whose records were directly evaluated and selected by magistrate Orellana Donis in his capacity as a member of the nominating commissions, were persons that López Villatoro trusted.

Process for the Election of Magistrates
It is essential to summarize the development of the process to elect magistrates to the Supreme Court of Justice, which officially began on July 11, 2014, and the role played by the then Commissioner Orellana Donis as a member of the panel number 8., In the session of September 2, 2014, asid panel reviewed the statements and impediments presented against the candidates included in the box number 3, which contained the files number 22 to 32 and among which are the current incumbent Magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice Vitalina Orellana Orellana, Silvia Veronica Garcia Molina and José Antonio Pineda Barales, alternate magistrates William Demetrio España Mérida and Mario Estuardo Gordillo Galindo, as well as the former magistrate Douglas René Charchal Ramos. Once the stage to know the impediments and indications has been completed, the selection process continued with the review and evaluation stage of the files.

In the meeting held on September 4, 2014, the case files were distributed again among the panel; each group received different files than those in the previous stage, except for panel number 8 integrated by Judge Orellana Donis, which continued to assess the files in box number 3. Also, more files were distributed on the meetings of September 11, and 12, 2014, and panel number 8 received the files number 144 to 152, which included the current Magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice Silvia Patricia Valdés Quezada and the alternate Magistrate María Consuelo Porras Argueta. Therefore, the magistrate Orellana Donis, in his capacity as commissioner for the selection of candidates to the Supreme Court of Justice, evaluated and qualified 8 of the 26 elected magistrates.

Of these candidates, there are indications of the relationship with the attorney Sergio Roberto López Villatoro as follows:

The current magistrate of the Supreme Court Justice, Vitalina Orellana Orellana, hired attorney Alba Ruth Sandoval Guerra on May 13, 2014, to prepare an identification proceeding. She also enlisted the services of the attorney Wendy Yesenia Gómez Silva on March 30, 2015, to register the sale of real estate that the buyer bought. As stated above, both attorneys worked with the lawyer Sergio Roberto López Villatoro and organized at least nine companies in 2014 alone, all domiciled in the same office as Lovi&Asociados, evidencing a relationship of confidence and dependence between them. Likewise, the fact that Judge Vitalina Orellana Orellana requested the services of two attorneys linked to Sergio Roberto López Villatoro, among all lawyers and notaries of the country, denotes a relationship of trust and closeness among them, which suggests the possibility that he had an interest in seeing her reach the highest authority of the Judiciary.

Furthermore, Alba Ruth Sandoval Guerra worked with judge Vitalina Orellana Orellana as her assistant in the Chamber of Appeals, and later as Secretary of the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, demonstrating trust in the current President Silvia Patricia Valdés Quezada.

There is evidence of trust, friendship and affinity of attorney Sergio Roberto Lopez Villatoro with the magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice Vitalina Orellana Orellana and Silvia Patricia Valdés Quezada.The files of these magistrates were reviewed and scored by the magistrate Eddy Giovanni Orellana Donis and his panel, and they were later elected as representatives of the highest governing body of the Judiciary.

After receiving a luxurious apartment in an exclusive area of the capital city paid by attorney López Villatoro through the company NICO S.A., where he currently resides with his wife, this magistrate promoted the candidacies of people close to the interests of the attorney, favoring their selection and electing eight magistrates of the twenty files examined by him. There is enough and reasonable evidence of an illegal negotiation to submit this impeachment request.

Finally, according to the Comptroller General of Accounts, Judge Orellana Donis did not update his 2015 financial affidavit to show the real estate he purchased in 2014. Thus, on January 29, 2016, he submitted an extension to his financial affidavit claiming to have a loan with Banco de Desarrollo Rural dated August 21, 2015, in the amount of Q1,900,400 and a term of 20 years. Thus, by not directly mentioning the acquisition of the apartment, it seems that he wants to conceal the existence of the asset, taking into account the doubts that weigh on the illicit origin of its acquisition.



Attorney General,Thelma Aldana Hernández

Commissioner Iván Velásquez Gómez